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The educated beer snob
New books quench different thirsts for aficionados

WHEN YOU'RE not drinking beer, home brewing your own beer or running off the calories consumed from beer, you might as well be reading about beer. Three new books shed light on different aspects of the craft beer renaissance. Whether your interest is in becoming more adept at detecting the varieties and nuances of different beer styles, the history of craft beer in America or how to extend your love of drinking beer into the opportunity to eat it instead, there's a book for you.

The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks

By Joshua M. Bernstein

If knowledge is power, consuming The Complete Beer Course will make you the strongest of craft beer ninjas. The first of its twelve chapters focuses on the essentials of beer: Ingredients, brewing techniques, flavor profiles, glassware and the like. From there on, each class focuses on a particular style or grouping of beers. Cold fermented beers are aligned together, bitter beers have a combined focus and barrel aging gets the in-depth treatment as well. Each division has extensive tasting notes using some of the best beers in the class as examples.

The sidebars throughout the book are well researched and range from brewery profiles to cultural anecdotes and often comedic historical references. The illustrations go far beyond the typical beauty shots of foamy ales in curved glassware and range in variety from magnified images of Lactobacillus bacteria to prohibition-era black and white stills.

This hardcover edition is thick and gorgeously designed starting with the embossed letterpress-influenced cover and continuing into the bright, clear photography and measured page layouts. It's the rare beer book that you can proudly display on your coffee table.

The Audacity of Hops: The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution

By Tom Acitelli

In 1975, there was only one craft brewery in the United States. When you compare that to the 2,483 in operation right now, with dozens more set to open before the close of 2013, it's an astonishing period of growth.

Acitelli takes the reader back to those heady early days of craft beer and tells the stories of pioneers like Anchor Brewing's Fritz Maytag who attempted to capture the spirit of the earliest, distinctly American brews. Those tales continue on through the current giants of the industry like Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head that work to ever expand the palate of adventurous drinkers with more extreme variations of the form.

The Audacity of Hops is not only well researched, it's also easy to read and makes for an enjoyable foray into what created the current culture of craft beer in America and the entrepreneurial spirit that keeps it moving forward.

The Craft Beer Cookbook: 100 Artisanal Recipes for Cooking with Beer

By Jacquelyn Dodd

Dodd earned her craft beer credentials by creating and sharing unique beer-centric recipes on her blog, The Beeroness. One hundred of her most popular recipes from the website as well as some new offerings are collected in this essential guide and idea book for cooking with beer.

It's a sad fact that most people skip right over the introductory chapters to a cookbook, eager to gaze at the luscious photos of food and get started in the kitchen. While the photos in this book are gorgeous, and the recipes are inventive takes on classic dishes, it's the introduction that gives the reader appropriate knowledge to go forward and create unique recipes with craft beer. A brief overview of beer styles leads into pairing suggestions and all-important information about the technical aspects of creating unique recipes or adapting existing recipes with beer as a primary ingredient.

The recipes range from a fresh take on beer bread (Wheat Beer Sesame Hamburger Buns) to more exotic fare such as a porter, goat cheese and portobello stuffed pork loin. Six meatless entrees mean that you'll have something fun to share with your vegetarian friends and the dessert selections look insanely decadent. The lemon orange IPA pudding with beer whipped cream is a perfect example of the creativity on display in this final chapter.